Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Bible in 90 Days: What I Learned

I learned that God is always faithful to me. God wants a relationship with me. God loves me. He waits for me even when I don't seek Him or when I run from Him. God forgives me when I ask.

The hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness, by Thomas Chisholm sums it up for me.

Great is Thy faithfulness,
Great is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided,
Great is the faithfulness, Lord unto me.

I may not always do my part in my relationship with God, but God always does His.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Twelve Years Ago Today...

...I became a Mom. I met and said goodbye to my precious firstborn.

Today, he would be twelve. He would be red-headed. He would be in middle school. He would be taller than me. These are all the things I know would be true. The rest are only guesses, ideas, hopes and dreams. And none of them do I get to experience with my precious firstborn.

Sam was with us for a mere nine months. Those nine months were spent cradled and protected inside of me. Others, never got to experience my precious son. His sweet, perfect, short life was spent warm and cozy cradled in my care.

His father and I were so excited about going from a couple to a family. To experience the wonder and joy of parenthood. Twelve years ago today...we got to experience the wonder of seeing our beautiful amazing son only to also experience the crushing grief of saying goodbye to him.

Nine months, to last a life time. Nine months to make all the memories. Nine months to love and nurture and dream and plan.

A lifetime of wonder. A lifetime of what ifs. A lifetime of being a mom to a child no one knows.

It isn't enough. I want more. I want to celebrate a birthday with my child. I want to see his face light up when he opens the perfect gift. I want to hear his voice. I want to give him a hug and have him return it. I want to know my son. I want him in my house. The wants never go away...

But, I know that he lived the life God intended him to live. I know his purpose on this earth was fulfilled. I know God chose us to be his parents for a reason. I know Sam changed me. I know his life while brief had a long and profound effect in so many lives. I know he is not forgotten and never will be.

Sam's life was not a tragedy. It was not a sad life. Sam had a wonderful life, he was and is loved and cared for.

I am so blessed that I am Sam's Mom. I am so glad I got those nine months with him.

Happy Heavenly Birthday, my beautiful son. I love and miss you always.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Bible in 90 Days: We did it!

Everyone in our house who was doing The Bible in 90 Days has officially finished the program, and thus, the Bible! I finished last Thursday. Rehm and Michale finished last Friday.

I can not believe I can now say that I have read the entire Bible. Honestly, this is something I never expected to accomplish.

Why was I successful? I think there are three reasons. I had accountability at home, among my friends and in my church community. I had a plan. I had a short term commitment.

Participating with family members was great because it added daily motivation to stay current. I won't say we were competitive or ever kept score with where we each were, but getting behind my family members always motivated me to catch up and persevere when reading got difficult, monotonous or boring.

Having my son, who is ten, reading really motivated me. We did not approach him about doing this. It was completely his idea. We did not nag or incentivize him to read. He was completely responsible for finding time to read and staying on schedule. What good excuse could I possibly have to not read if my ten year old could do it? I mean, seriously, he's ten!

Having friends and my church community reading helped reinforce my commitment. I can not tell you how many of my conversations in the last three months have been about what the Bible actually says. It was awesome because we were all in basically the same place in our reading at the same time. If I found a story, chapter, or book interesting, perplexing, or disturbing I had plenty of people I could discuss the topic with.

Every Sunday, I got to hear a sermon about something I had just read. This was great for two reasons. It made me really want to go to church each week to see what the minister had chosen to focus on out of that week's reading. And, it made me want to stay on schedule so the each week's sermon would coincide with my reading. The sermon series was excellent.

I had a nice book mark that told me exactly what I needed to read each day. And, it had a nice little check box to check off when I finished each day. It was so easy to see my progress. I had a daily email encouraging me in my reading, and giving me a key verse for the day. I had a weekly discussion with others and DVD series to summarize the key points of the week. I didn't have to figure out what to read when, it was all perfectly laid out for me.

The length of this program was perfect. I was not committing to doing something every day for the next year or five years. I was only committing to three months. That seemed very doable. OK, at first, looking at the size of the Bible and how thin the pages are and how small the print is, it didn't seem doable. At that point it seemed very daunting and crazy! I promptly downloaded the Bible on my Kindle so I didn't have to see just how big the Bible really is. After a few days of reading and learning I could stay on plan, knowing I only had to do this for three months was kind of nice.

Reading the Bible in such a short time period really makes you read in a different way and makes different things stand out. You don't have time to deeply ponder each verse, or look up an unfamiliar unit of measure equivalent, or who a person is, thus you see the "big picture" of the Bible. Also, reading this quickly allows you to relate things that happen hundreds of pages apart together because it is all still fresh in your mind.

When you study an individual book of the Bible, you get to really dig in. You can study the time period, the historical context, read what the scholars have to say, etc. But you don't get to see first hand how that book relates to the rest of the Bible. Reading this quickly, you see much more clearly how it all fits together. It is kind of like reading a really great epic novel.

Now that I'm done, I'd like to go back and have a closer look at Job, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs and Romans. Job, I would probably just like to read a second time at a slower pace. Ecclesiastes, I would like to read again and then maybe again or maybe at that point do a Bible study - I think I need to read it again to decide what I want to do with it, but I really liked it. Proverbs, I would like to read regularly a chapter a day for a month and repeat for a few months. Romans, I would like to do a year long inductive Bible study.

After the follow up, I might just want to do The Bible in 90 Days again and see what stands out, as I'm sure it would be completely different things than this time.

I highly recommend this reading plan to everyone. I think the key to success is doing this with others, whether it is a friend, spouse, small group, congregation, or all of these. The community accountability and bonding were essential for me.

I hope next summer our church finds another church-wide study to do. I loved, loved, loved doing something with my family, small group and church community all at once. It was an amazing experience.


My other posts on this experience can be found here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Rubilicious, Rockstar

Jenn - Posted from my iPhone

First Day of School Work

This was what Ruby and Eliza Claire were working on when we left them Monday morning. Their very first school assignment.

Jenn - Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Snack Art Has Made a Comeback

I did this for Eliza Claire and Ruby in their Three Year Old class but last year snack was provided for the whole class. I missed surprising them each day with a new drawing and I think they missed it too.

When drawing bags yesterday, Charlotte was sad because she didn't need a snack bag. I made her a card to go in her lunch box. She told me I had to "write something on it, too!" It was a hit as well.

Jenn - Posted from my iPhone

My Kitchen Helper

Mommy, you're the nice mommy today. When you don't get enough sleep you're the mean one. ~Ruby while helping me cook dinner

Jenn - Posted from my iPhone

Monday, August 22, 2011


Kindergarten through the Years

Kindergarten to Fifth Grade:  Where did my Little Boy Go?

First Day of School: Fifth, Second, Kinder and Kinder

I decided to break up my back to school posts today.  Learn more about Ruby and Eliza Claire's first day of Kindergarten here.

This year is a very special year.  This is the one and only year that all of my children will attend the same school, ever!  I intend to thoroughly enjoy the simplicity of having them all in one place for the short time it lasts.

It is also a special year in that it is Rehm's last year of Elementary and it is Ruby and Eliza Claire's first year. It will also be a special year for Charlotte as she will be receiving intervention for her dyslexia.  I think she is going to blossom this year with the extra confidence this intervention should give her.

The twins are in class together.  That probably surprises some who know me well.  They have been separated for the last two years of preschool and typically I try to separate when possible to give them more room to be individuals and not half of a unit.  We made an exception this year because we love their kindergarten teacher.  Rehm and Charlotte both had her and she is fabulous.  We could not in good conscious have one of the twins in her class and not the other.  And we didn't want either or both of them to miss out on the awesomeness of Mrs. Johnson.  So, they are together.  I think it will be a great year for them.

Everyone had a great first day.  They all have friends in their classes that they were very excited to see.  They all like their teachers.  I think it is going to be a very good year.


My Babies Started Kindergarten

Eliza Claire came in my room at 6:00 am because she had "a bad dream."  She went back to sleep in my bed until 6:45.  When I came to wake her up, she scrubbed around for about ten seconds.  Then her eyes popped open and she exclaimed, "School!!!!" She hopped right up and ran to get dressed.

I went to wake Ruby up.  She was still snoring.  I gently woke her up, afraid she was going to yell at me.  I leaned over her, with an arm on each side of her and asked her if she was going to get up.  She said, "I would if you would ever move your arms!" I laughed and moved and she popped out of the bed.
Ruby and Eliza Claire with their wonderful teacher Mrs. Johnson

When asked about the best part of their day Eliza Claire immediately said, "Recess!"  and Ruby said, "my chicken nuggets, I guess."

They read the Kissing Hand.  They had art today.  They went to the playground twice!  I think that is all I've learned so far.  

I would say it was a successful first day of school. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What Do You Mean "There Are Two?"

In writing my last post, I realized that I wasn't blogging when I got pregnant with the twins.  In fact I didn't start blogging until they were six months old.  I realized, I've never talked about what it was like to find out we were going from a family of four to a family of six.  So I thought I would remedy that.

In the Summer of 2005, Michael took a new job that required him to travel four days a week, every week.  At the time, Michael was making a career change and the travel was necessary to make the change.  We as a family were OK with it.  I had wanted another baby for a while and finally convinced Michael that a "third" child made sense.

Of course, I got to call  him in Chicago to tell him I was pregnant because he was traveling.  Then my first appointment arrived.  This not being our first baby and with Michael traveling so much, I didn't even try to schedule it for a time he could go. The appointment was going along just typically.  My OB was giving me the run down of the next nine months and then he did an ultrasound to check my dates.  At that point, he said, "Forget everything I just told you, there are two babies!"  I  started laughing.  My OB was more shocked that I was.  It was extremely funny and makes me laugh just remembering it.

Of course, I now had to tell my dear husband that not only had I talked him into having a baby, but oops, we are having two.  I was a bit nervous to make that phone call.  I wasn't 100% sure how he was going to react.  Knowing my husband and know his "well, there's nothing we can do about it now, so we are just as well to embrace it" attitude I wasn't overly concerned.  But having another baby had been completely my idea and while he agreed I was a bit afraid of him feeling like this was "all my fault."

After the exam, I called Michael, in Chicago and told him our news.  He was at lunch, luckily.  He said, "You're joking!"  I assured him I was not.  He started laughing and laughed uncontrollably for several minutes.  I think he was a bit overwhelmed.  I can't say that I blame him.  I was, too.

I came home, scanned the ultrasound picture and sent it to him so that he would have proof.  Then I scheduled an appointment for that Friday so he could see them with his own eyes. 

When we told the grandparents, they all started laughing.  Yes, at our house, twins mean laughter.  Five years later we are all still laughing.

Does that mean it has all been easy?  Absolutely, NOT!  Having four children in a span of five years with two being the same age has been the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.  The twin pregnancy took a serious toll on my body for a couple of years after they were born.  It also took a huge toll on me emotionally, as I was determined to do-it-all, and I couldn't. Financially having one more than we planned on makes a big difference as well.

Has it been the best experience, ever? Yes, it has.  I wouldn't change it for a minute.  I am so blessed to have these special girls in my life. 


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Twins, it's not a choice, it is a blessing

I read this article today and was left horrified.  You see, I have twins.  Twins I never expected to have.  Twins, when I had a five year old and a not quite three year old.  Twins, when my husband was traveling four days a week, every week.  Twins, when I had to do some convincing of my dear husband to have a "third" child.  Twins, when I'd had plenty of complications with singleton pregnancies, including a child who died at birth, a miscarriage and two children who had varying length NICU stays. Twins!
It never occurred to me not to have one of them. It never occurred to my husband.  Even when they weren't expected.  Even when it wasn't convenient.  Even when it wasn't easy.  Even when it scared me to death to think of the additional pregnancy complications that come with twins.  Even when I couldn't imagine how we would possibly pay for college times four, or weddings times four.  It. Was. Never. A. Choice.

How could it be?  How can it be for some people*?  I don't understand. 

One of these precious girls would not be here.

I can not imagine.

*I understand that there are unexpected medical situations that arise that could make a choice like this necessary.  Trust me, I know plenty about pregnancy complications and pregnancy loss.  But, this article was not dealing with medical necessity, just choice.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Grocery Shopping

I used to blog regularly about grocery shopping with all the kids in tow.  It was always such an adventure.  Especially back in the days when I had the twins in the stroller, which I pushed, and Charlotte strapped in the cart, which I pulled behind me, all while Rehm walked and talked our ears off. 

Grocery shopping is not that interesting anymore but it is still interesting when all four go along and we are doing a full shopping trip.  Today was no exception.  Overall, they are great in the store.  It doesn't hurt that they are big enough to send back an aisle or two to grab something we forgot or to send to the restroom in pairs when needed.  But, having five people trying to stay together in the store and out of everyone else's way is not an easy task. I'm lucky that most  of the other shoppers are patient with us and find them more endearing than annoying.  Notice I said most.

My kids are loud.  My kids are all over the place.  My kids are oblivious of their surroundings.  My kids have a short attention span.  My kids get in other shoppers' way.  My kids want to hold the lists.  My kids want to be done, NOW!  My kids are kids and no kid really wants to be grocery shopping.  I can't say I blame them as it isn't my favorite activity either. 

I do my best to make them aware of their surrounding and remind them to mind their manners.  I try to use the grocery store as a place to work on reading, math, budgeting and other life skills.  I try to keep them quiet.  I try to discourage running, dancing and spinning in circles.    But they aren't perfect and neither am I.  Grocery shopping is just not a fun chore for any of us. 

But, I had a giddy realization today.  I don't have to take any of my children grocery shopping for the next nine months! Oh, my, goodness!  Do you know how happy that makes me?  Do you realize I can cut 50% off my grocery shopping time?  Yay!  I'm just thrilled.  And you know what, I know four other people in my house who are also thrilled by this.

Now, I wonder how long it will be until I write a post about missing the kids while I'm grocery shopping?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rosemary Skewers

I found this recipe on The Pioneer Woman last fall. This has become my go to recipe when I need to take and adult appetizer to a get together. It is easy to make, in fact most of the time the kids help me assemble it, looks pretty, and tastes delicious.

Rosemary Skewers (Adapted from The Pioneer Woman's recipe)
24-30 sprigs of rosemary, each 4 to 5 inches long
8 oz hard salami
1 jar quartered artichoke hearts, drained and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 container bite-sized fresh mozzarella, drained
1 package cherry tomatoes
1 can black olives, drained
bottled balsamic vinaigrette

Starting about an inch from the top of the rosemary sprigs strip the leaves. You want some leaves left at the top for decoration. These will be your skewers. To assemble the skewers fold one slice of salami in quarters and slide it to the top of the skewer where the leaves start, add artichoke, and mozzarella. On half of the skewers end with a black olive, on the other half end with a cherry tomato. Alternate tomato and olive skewers around a plate. Fill the center with the leftover tomatoes and olives. At this point you can cover and refrigerate until needed. Right before serving drizzle balsamic vinaigrette over everything. Do NOT put the vinaigrette on early, it will discolor the salami.


Isn't He Handsome?

The glasses arrived yesterday. So far they are a hit. His favorite game is taking them on and off and saying "With," " Without," over, and over, and over.

Jenn - Posted from my iPhone

Friday, August 12, 2011

Kindergarten, Here We Come

I can't believe it is time for my youngests to go to Kindergarten.

We attended orientation last night. It is clear that they are excited and ready. I just can't believe it is time or that we survived the twin baby, toddler and preschooler years.

School starts in a little over a week, Monday, August 22.

Jenn - Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


During Camp Papa and Cici my Mom mentioned that Rehm might need to have his eyes checked. She noticed a couple of times where he could not read signs that she could.

Wanting to verify this for myself, I turned to the Internet for a printable eye chart. Sure enough he could not read more than one or two letters correctly on the entire thing!

Today was eye doctor day. Our diagnosis was confirmed. Nearsighted, with weak prescription and slight astigmatism. Apparently, he inherited my eyes. He needs glasses but he isn't going to be lost without them.

We picked out frames and should have his actual pair by next Wednesday at the latest. We saved over $100 by going to Walmart for the glasses instead of getting them from the eye doctor's office.

I will be ordering a back up pair and a sports pair from Zenni.

He went into this process very apprehensive. I think now he is just excited about being able to see clearly.

While I had the chart on the wall I did check the girls vision as well. At this time they are all good.

Jenn - Posted from my iPhone

Oh, What a Night

Michael got home from a business trip about 11:00 completely exhausted. He went to sleep, I read.

As usual Baron took up residence on the bed between us.

The cat started meowing in the hallway.

The cat meowing freaked Baron out. It doesn't tale much he is a skiddish dog to start with.

This caused Baron to pace in circles on the bed. When a 60+ pound dog paces on a bed with two people in it, it isn't pretty.

This woke Micheal multiple times. He was not happy.

I kept trying to get Baron off the bed but he was scared to get down because the cat was in the hallway right by our door.

The cat wouldn't leave the hallway because there was a cricket trapped in an overhead light fixture.

Baron wouldn't settle because the cat wouldn't leave the hallway.

Finally Baron and I went downstairs together. I slept On the couch and he settled nicely beside me on the floor.

Everyone could finally sleep.

I must really love this dog and this husband.

It is 10 am and the cat is still meowing in the hallway...


PS. We have never allowed dogs on furniture of any kind until the last month. I'm not sure how Baron managed to get us to change that rule.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Random: Today's Pictures from my Phone

Looking at these pictures, this is going to be a very random post. 

My Granny, is in her late 80s.  She is declining both physically and mentally.  She used to be an amazing crocheter.  In fact one of my most prized possessions is a table cloth she made me at of very fine thread that probably took her an entire winter to make.  These days she makes little crocheted things to occupy herself.  They don't really have a design or purpose.  She gave Rehm one for him and each of his sisters while he was visiting.  So far, this is the best use we've found for them - Playmobil people clothing!  They are all dressed up and ready to go to the wedding.

With Ruby and Eliza Claire starting Kindergarten in less that two weeks (!), I am trying to round up the last few things they need for school.  They need a small pillow and blanket, I have one pillow and several blankets.  I took this picture to remind me to look for another pillow like this one while running errands today.  Unfortunately, I could not find any of these (it is about 12x16) but did find a baby pillow (it is about 8x10?).  Luckily thanks to my amazing Mom and Mother-in-Law I have plenty of pillow cases for both of these sizes of pillows.  I think we officially have all of our back to school supplies.  Now I just need to remember to pick up short to wear under dresses and pack a change of clothing in their backpacks in case an unfortunate and embarrassing accident occurs. 

Rehm and Charlotte had a playdate with friends this morning.  Ruby, Eliza Claire and I went shopping for a shower present for this weekend.  Ruby can not for the life of her get the baby's name right.  She kept calling him "Duck-lan."  His name is Douglas.  I know she is thinking of the name Declan, which is the son of good friends of ours.  I kept saying, "You mean Douglas," enough times that she and Eliza Claire are both calling him "Duck-las!"  I think it is so cute I can't bear to correct her in further.  While shopping for the baby gift I came across this lunch box set that I had a very hard time not buying to try out with my kids.  It looks like it could make a fun different lunch.  But it was expensive and as my husband would tell you, I have enough lunch stuff already.  But, I may have to try one at some time. 

I just realized in the lunch box picture you can see my crackle/shatter nail polish.  I'm blaming it on my girls and niece.  We bought two bottles of it while Brooke was visiting.  We bought the Sally Hansen brand as it was on sale at our grocery store.  We bought white and purple shatter.  So far we have not found an under color that makes the purple look good.  And the purple doesn't seem to crackle as well as the white.  It is very important to let the first color dry completely before applying the crackle.  The thinner the layer of crackle the more crackled the end result.  You have to be careful not to go back over a spot you've already painted with the crackle or you lose most of the effect.  I find painting with it to be similar to trying to paint your nails with White Out.  Please tell me I'm not the only one who did this when bored in class in middle school?

These adorable sweaters were at Babies 'R Us today.  The color came out funky in the picture.  They were much cuter in person.  I was very sad that my girls have outgrown Babies 'R Us sizes as I would have bought these.  In fact there were several darling pieces of girl clothing today.  But alas, I'm not sad we have outgrown the baby store.  In fact in kind of makes me giddy.

This pretty flower was made by my daughter and myself.  She has read in her Fancy Nancy  books about making tissue paper flowers and wanted to make some today.  Instead of tissue paper, I had her bring me a couple of regular tissues.  I showed her how I used to make flowers with my friend Anita in elementary school.  The step Fancy Nancy didn't tell her about was tearing the edges of the tissue to make them ragged.  It makes for a much prettier finished product.  She was impressed with her Mom's flower making ability and likes having her creation on display in the kitchen.

This, my friends, is a screen shot of the wallpaper on my phone.  If my husband reads this he will be shaking his head.  This is Pearl.  She is a dog currently in foster care with Houston Collie Rescue.  She is about a year old and deaf.  She doesn't look like a "real" collie because she is a double-dilute or double-merle collie and a smooth coat to boot. (Our other collie is also a smooth coat - just means he has short hair instead of the long coat you think of when you hear the word "collie.")  Her parents should have never been bred together. Breeding two merle collies leads to having dogs with hearing and/or vision problems and often puppy mortality.  I have totally fallen in love with this dog and would like to add her to our crazy household. From a practical standpoint I know we should remain a one dog house.  My head knows this, but my heart just loves this little lady.  Every time I turn on my phone this picture makes me smile.  I hope she finds the perfect family very soon.

Jenn - Posted from my iPhone

Sunday, August 07, 2011

A Long Overdue Ode to Howdy

January 10, 1998 - June 16, 2011

We lost a very dear friend in June.  Our beloved Howdy, also know as, Howdy Dog, Howdy-Howds.

Howdy was one of the best dogs I've ever had the pleasure to share a home with.  He arrived in our lives in the Spring of 1998 along with his sister Tobie.  They spent the first four months of their lives in Weatherford, Texas, with lots of room to roam and lots of other collies.  When we brought them home, they did not know how to go up and down stairs and we lived in a 3rd floor apartment.  They had never walked on a side walk or street and their poor little paws did not like it.  They quickly became such a big part of our lives.

From the beginning Howdy was such a laid-back, easy-going dog.  We joked about him not being the most intelligent dog, but I'm not sure that is true.  I think Howdy was always very content.  He was happiest to just be in the room with you.  He did not demand a lot of attention, he just liked being near his people.

Howdy was always very well behaved.  He wasn't one to chew on things, or get in trashcans or litter boxes.  He didn't try to get on the furniture.  He was a very good listener and always aimed to please.  We always described Howdy's personality as "Doh-de-doh-de-doh."

When someone would sneeze, Howdy would immediately come check on that person.  I don't know what he thought sneezes were, but they concerned him, greatly.   He had to get in your face and make sure you were OK. 

Howdy loved to play in the water.  He loved to curl up with his sister Tobie to sleep.  He loved to run laps in the yard while chasing his sister.

Howdy hated the vet.  For as laid-back as he was at home he was completely opposite at the vet.  He would go willingly but he did not want to be messed with at all!  He would not even cooperate for weighing.  He would not let them take blood, much less do anything more invasive.  It got to be a vicious circle of needing to do testing on him, but not being able to with out sedating him.  But he couldn't be sedated with out testing.  Yeah, confusing with no good solution.

Howdy had an ulcer when he was six or so.  We just happened to find it when doing routine testing as part of something else, though I don't even remember what the something else was now.

At eight and a half Howdy's gall bladder burst and we weren't sure if he would survive surgery.  Luckily, he did.  And had almost five more years with us.

In the last three to four years of his life, Howdy had severe arthritis in his hips and later in his neck.  He was on multiple medications multiple times a day for it.  The medication provided some pain relief but of course could not reverse the damage from the arthritis.  For the last two years of his life, Howdy was not able to climb the stairs in our house.  This was very hard on all of us as Howdy and Tobie had always slept in our room.

Baron (front) and Howdy (back) taking a nap together
After Tobie passed away, Howdy started losing weight.  No matter what we did, or offered him to eat, or how much he ate, he kept losing weight.  He also got very depressed and started pacing the house.  We realized that he was missing doggie companionship and decided it was in his best interest to adopt another dog, Baron.

Overall, Howdy and Baron got along well.  Howdy was definitely happier once he arrived.  Well, accept for when Baron would try to get Howdy to play with him.  Howdy wasn't able to play chase or tag and sometimes got annoyed with Baron for trying to play.  Honestly, I don't blame him as sometimes Baron would accidentally knock Howdy down trying to get him to play.

Howdy was always doing his best to please his people and loved being near them.  Even in the last year of life when standing was difficult and painful for Howdy, he would always follow me around in the kitchen with his head pressed up against my knee.  It was frustrating at times as it made it hard to cook, or I would trip over him.  But I miss that sweet boy when I cook these days.

In the last six months to a year, Howdy lost most of his hearing, his eye sight was not great, his mobility was limited and he would at times get confused.  Even with all of the decline he was still feisty at the vet.  In fact, just a few months before his death, it took three vet techs to clip his nails!  This was the dog that could only stand if moving and who fell over easily.  But he still hated having his feet touched and being messed with at the vet. 

It was very hard to come to the decision that it was Howdy's time to go to Dog Heaven.  His decline was so gradual but unfortunately continual.   As he declined, we kept doing new things to ensure his comfort and quality of life, but eventually we got to the place that there was no more we could do to achieve these goals.

Making the choice was so difficult.  Leaving with Howdy for his final vet appointment was very hard on our whole family.  That day, on the way to the vet, he stood and looked out of the back window of the van, something he had not done in years.  It took at least three people to place his final IV, because he still didn't like to be messed with.

But once we got to the vet and got everything ready, it wasn't hard.  It wasn't hard because it was the right choice at the right time for the right reasons.  I felt privileged to spend those last minutes with Howdy, hugging him and telling him how much we all loved him and that it was OK to go.  I walked out of the vet's office knowing we, as a family, had been good to Howdy, all the way to the end.  Knowing we would miss him, but have no regrets about the life he had lived and our parts in that life.

Howdy Dog, we still miss you.  You will always hold a special place in our hearts.  Thank you for being such a loyal and loving part of our family.


PS. More Howdy stories from the blog can be found here.

PPS. I planned to write this in June.  Actually I started it then.  Unfortunately, our laptop with all the pictures I took of Howdy in the last week of his life got dropped before I got the post written or the pictures backed up.  The laptop has been in the shop to see if it could be repaired or information off the hard drive retrieved.  I've been waiting to write this hoping that the pictures could be recovered.  I've given up hope and decided it was time to write this with or without the pictures.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

The Bible in 90 Days: Two Months Down Less than One to Go

The last few weeks have been spent reading the Major and Minor Prophets in the Old Testament.  Assuming I finish my reading today, I will finally be in the New Testament.  Yes, I've been reading for 68 days and am just now starting the New Testament.

While reading the Prophets I have had a hard time deciding how they relate to me and my life as a Christian.  I have found a few things that really stood out to me.

God gave the Isrealites many, many chances to change their ways before taking action to get their attention and punish/correct them.  A Veggie Tales song immediately comes to mind - God is a God of second chances, second chances...  But they kept rejecting Him, over, and over, and over, again.

We have all dealt with rejection at some point in our lives.  It is a very hurtful experience.  Can you imagine what it is like to be God and have people continually and constantly reject Him, when all He wants is to have a relationship with us?   It is amazing that He keeps trying and He continues to be faithful to us, even when we are not faithful to Him. 

I have had many times when reading the Old Testament that I haven't liked the punishing God depicted there.  I have finally realized that it is because I know that I will and do mess up and I don't want to think about possibly being corrected myself.  But as a parent, I know that children learn from correction and while it isn't pleasant for anyone involved, it is a necessary part of learning. 

God has a plan for our lives.  If we follow that plan getting from Point A to Point B is usually a much smoother experience than when we decide we know best and do our own thing.  I believe we still get to Point B, where God wants us to be, but the path is just much more difficult as we have to learn along the way what God was so willing to show us. 

I found it interesting that the people whose faith was noticed by others were not people who were trying to impose their beliefs on others.  I'm thinking about Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, aka Belteshazzar Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  I never knew that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had different names.  I find it interesting that they are know by their Babylonian names not their Hebrew names, yet Daniel is the opposite. 

Daniel kept praying to God even when the law said he couldn't.  He didn't go around telling everyone the law was wrong. Daniel just kept on living the way God told him.  Did he get in trouble? Yes.  But in the end because of his quiet, steady faith in the power of God, un-believers (King Darius) witnessed and recognized the power, greatness and sovereignty of God.

This same theme was seen again with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  They refused to go against God's laws for them, were willing to endure the consequences of that refusal, and confident in God's protection of them.  They did not go around telling everyone else how to live, or that what the were doing was wrong.  They just did what God told them to do and let their example speak for itself.  When God rewarded their faith and unyielding belief in Him, unbelievers were awed by the power and greatness of God.

I think it is such an important lesson for us to remember.  How we live our day to day lives matters so much more than anything we can say.  It is the true test of our faith and what those around us really notice.  To bring others to Christ, we don't have to even mention His name.  We have to live a authentic life for Him.

Are you reading the Bible in 90 Days?  What is standing out to you?


Thursday, August 04, 2011

Camp Papa and Cici: Installment 3

Oh my goodness, my son is getting so spoiled. He is going to be so bored when he gets back to reality.

Saturday he saw the Smurfs movie in 3D with Aunt Sherri and Zander. Then played at their house most of the day. That evening they had family dinner with all the aunts and uncles and cousins.

Sunday Rehm went to church with Papa and Cici. After that they spent the afternoon playing games at Cici's house and hanging out with Zander and family.

Monday included a tour of a local dairy farm. Rehm called from the farm to tell me the ice cream was as good and possibly better than Blue Bell.

Tuesday he zapped three squirrels! Actually he zapped one squirrel once and a second squirrel twice. I asked what they did when he zapped them. He said, " they go 'zzzzz' and then fall! Then they get up and try again!" I'm not sure if the squirrels are teaching a lesson in perseverance or stupidity.

Also on Tuesday he and Papa went golfing. This was a different course than last time. I haven't heard much about it yet.

Wednesday, Rehm got to go to Bo'Jangles for lunch. He loves their biscuits. Then they picked up Zander and all went bowling.

He called this morning to ask if he could stay an extra week. I told him "No!" I am not sure I'm going to recognize This boy of mine when he gets home.

I wonder what else they will do before putting him on his flight on Saturday?

Cici, what have I missed in the list of things you have done?

Jenn - Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

A Fun Summer Day with my Four Favorite Girls

My niece Brooke is visiting this week. We are having so much fun with just the girls, especially since Rehm is at Camp Papa and Cici. He isn't here to complain about all the girl focused activities.

Brooke has been coming to visit for at least a few days each summer since she was five. I absolutely love when she visits as do her girl cousins.

The week has been great but Tuesday was especially fun.

We went to breakfast at Einstein's.

We went to the movies to see Smurfs. Brooke and Charlotte really enjoyed it. Charlotte, surprisingly, didn't get scared at all. Ruby and Eliza liked it but it was a little too much for them and there was a lot they just weren't old enough to get.

Then we went shopping for shoes for Charlotte. She found shoes she loves! And now, really believes that waiting until you find the perfect pair of shoes is much better than settling for OK shoes just because everyone else found the perfect pair. I got talked into crazy socks for my three girls because Brooke has them. And, of course, if Brooke has them they must be awesome.

Then we went to the pet store to pick up something and look at all the animals.

Of course, then everyone was hungry so we had to get lunch.

Then we came home for a little quiet time.

After quite time everyone was ready to swim. Ruby and Eliza Claire decided to try the swim test to be able to go in the deep (4 feet) end. Ruby got off course due to the crowd and didn't quite make it. Eliza Claire had success! I was so proud of both of them for trying. (Do you see the crazy crackle nail polish from Monday's fun?)

After dinner and showers, Brooke finished up some of her first batch of cake balls. We still have another half of the batch to do.

We have spent so much time just talking and giggling together. I love getting to have this special bond with such a special girl. I'm so glad Brooke is willing to hang out with us and her parents are willing to let her visit.

I don't remember how it came up but I asked Brooke if I got to visit her for her first Prom. She said I could come, but just me. No girls and no Uncle Michael. I hope when the time comes she really means it :)

Jenn - Posted from my iPhone